September 27, 2006

This Blog Entry Intentionally Left Unblank

They are everywhere. Reader Bill C. Davis of Portland, Oregon, found them in a technical manual. Harvey Kleinman, of New York City, found them in a prospectus for a mutual fund. Lawyers Ed Swanson, of Los Angeles, California and Paul Dahlman, of New York City, have perpetrated them.

What are they? Otherwise blank pages in books, technical manuals, and legal documents that say: THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK or sometimes, THIS PAGE IS INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.

Here is the mystery, as elucidated so clearly by Englishman Guy Chapman:

"This Page Intentionally Left Blank" could be one of the oddest
sentences in the English language... But once this phrase has been printed on the page, the page is no longer blank; n fact, it is
intentionally not blank. Therefore, the statement is only correct when it has not yet been made. Once it is written down, it is instantly wrong... The only known phrase that is more confusing is "This is a lie."

We tackle this Imponderable in Why Do Pirates Love Parrots? and are proud to join others obsessed with the topic, such as these stalwarts. It's about time that TPILB pages permeate the Web. We are proud to do our part.